Feb 25, 2018 Last Updated 5:27 AM, Feb 19, 2018

Whispers

Climate Not Ready

From climate ready to climate not so ready is what has happened with the whisper that the American Government’s US$24 million climate change related programme in the region being told to close shop not even one year after it opened. Marching orders came reportedly from none other than the Trump Administration, perpetuating his belief that climate change is a hoax. Headquartered in Suva, Climate Ready was being managed by a global engineering management conglomerate with funding from USAID to assist ten island countries achieve their climate adaptation goals, by helping draft policies and climate funding applications.

More judges please

A booming mining and construction sector is causing a sharp rise in finance related cases in Papua New Guinea. That’s the word from the country’s chief justice Sir Salamo Injia who wants to boost the number of judges on the bench from the current 44 to 80. That’s a jump of about 80 per cent more judges. Sir Salamo if he has his way would also like to split the country’s judiciary into national court, court of appeal and supreme court.

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Whispers

Rich and famous

IS Majuro in the northern Pacific the new playground for the world’s rich and famous? This was the scene at the international airport of the capital of the Marshall Islands one morning in December captured by the island’s veteran photojournalist Giff Johnson. Apart from the regular United Airlines plane that does the island hopping service from Hawaii to Guam, there was also a Japan Airlines aircraft, a 767 private plane as well as a Lear jet. If that was not enough, the early morning display also came with a private seaplane, a helicopter and of course, not to be outdone Air Marshalls’ very own Dornier. The word in town was that the flurry of air machines in Majuro was to do with the presence of Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

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Whispers

Melanesia blues

IS the big boss of the secretariat of the Melanesian Spearhead Group in trouble over his decision to be seconded again to his former employer in Fiji after taking up the Port Vila-based position? Rumours are rife both in Vila and neighbouring Honiara, where the current chair of the MSG sits, that Amena Yauvoli’s work with the COP23 Secretariat in Fiji is tantamount to secondary employment, something that his contract as DG forbids. His boss, the PM of Solomon Islands, supposedly sent him a letter basically stating that he could not hold two jobs and that he needed to give up one.

Bad blood

Still on the MSG … It appears the host of the MSG secretariat is still fuming about the disqualification of its candidate for the top job, so much so that a senior Fijian national’s application for a work permit submitted to Vanuatu immigration by the MSG has been knocked back without any explanation. Looks like the secretariat may have to issue fresh calls of interest for the manager legal position. Vanuatu had put up its long time envoy in Europe as candidate for DG MSG but his application was declared void as it was sent way past the deadline.

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Whispers

Report cards

SO, two regional NGOs recently failed the test of an independent assessor appointed by international donors. One NGO claims to be the umbrella of all Pacific civil society organisations and claims as much to the international community in order to secure maximum funding. The organisation has not been shy to muscle in on other civil society organisations to claim funding or actually hijack concepts which are marketed to overseas donors as their own intellectual property. The second has been busy in the area of trade and commerce. Both organisations were recently marked down by a regional assessor who was commissioned by a European funder whose outgoing Pacific head was close to the leaders of the NGOs. Incensed that her favourites had not fared well in the reporting process, the Hitler-like donor trashed the reports. So much for good governance.

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Whispers

Samoan passports

THERE is anger in Samoa after the Prime Minister revoked the diplomatic passport of the outgoing head of state. The PM, who is also responsible for the Immigration portfolio, was apparently well within the law when he cancelled the official passports of the former customary head of the land and the first lady. But the people of Samoa reacted loudly on electronic media condemning the action as disrespectful and not Fa’a Samoa (the Samoan Way). Despite the justifications offered by the PM and his references to international laws and practices, the people remain unconvinced and continue to call for the return of passport privileges to a muchloved couple. 

Unlikely prizes

THERE was much nudging and eyebrow raising at the awards ceremony of a communications company in Fiji last month. The new CEO received an award for Outstanding Leader of the Year while staff members have been abandoning the company due to poor leadership and vindictive management. So dire has the situation become that the once proud company has lost its best managers and highly-skilled technical staff as insiders cosy up to relatives in government. The recent award and the sacking of the CEO’s best friend of over 30 years has forced staff members to reconsider their future in the organisation.

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